Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 13 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.

The following came from Cross Makani Crabbe, Democratic candidate for state House District 46, which includes Waipio Acres, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Waialua and Mokuleia. The other Democratic candidate is Amy Perruso.

Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Candidate for State House District 46

Cross Makani Crabbe
Party Democratic
Age 24
Occupation Office manager
Residence Wahiawa, Oahu

Website

Community organizations/prior offices held

Wahiawa Lions Club, marketing communications chair; Whitmore Economic Development Group, board member; Rotary Club of Wahiawa-Waialua, treasurer; Hawaiian Civic Club of Wahiawa; Hope Education Center; Honolulu Youth Commission: District 2 appointee; Oahu Young Democrats, chair; Young Democrats of Hawaii, president; Soroptimist International of North Oahu, treasurer; New Hope Central Oahu Church; Calvary Independent Church.

1. What is the biggest issue facing your district, and what would you do about it?

Our biggest issue is the lack of social infrastructure. It is this larger issue that encompasses the underlying issues. My priorities are housing, education and public safety, but they all fall under the lack of social infrastructure. My goal as a legislator is to fight for more of these resources to be brought to our district.

Since physical infrastructure takes time to accumulate and execute, it is important that we start off with smaller pilot programs that may be temporary for now until larger buildings can be built. Our district is fairly rural with restrictions for development. Therefore if we are to bring the resources to the district as soon as possible, we must find adaptable solutions until permanent structures can be built to house the resources.

2. Many people have talked about diversifying the local economy for many years now, and yet Hawaii is still heavily reliant on tourism. What, if anything, should be done differently about tourism and the economy?

I believe that sustainable agriculture is one area of the economy that needs a much bigger boost than ever before. By focusing on locally grown produce, locally made value-add products, and other locally produced items, we can not only reduce costs and lower emissions from imports, but also keep more money in local hands.

The pandemic gave an opportunity for many residents to start small businesses, and supporting those business efforts rather than large chain companies can also add to the growth of the local economy.

Finally, since tourism is an inescapable part of our state revenue, I believe we should focus more on eco-tourism, providing more experiences for tourists to give back and witness local culture, spend money on locally owned and operated companies, and give back to the land. I believe that paying for entry and parking in overrun places around the islands is also a good idea to maintain our island’s natural beauties and prevent overcrowding.

3. An estimated 60% of Hawaii residents are struggling to get by, a problem that reaches far beyond low income and into the middle class, which is disappearing. What ideas do you have to help the middle class and working families who are finding it hard to continue to live here?

Focusing on affordable housing is simply not enough. Imposing policies that prioritize local families in the housing market rather than wealthy, out-of-state/non-Hawaii residents could be one solution.

Increasing the minimum wage in addition to supporting measures to create a more sustainable economy that keeps Hawaii’s dollars in Hawaii is also another solution.

We need to ensure that we keep our youth in our state and that they have a future in Hawaii. Supporting workforce-focused curriculum that help students obtain competitive salaried jobs will help build a strong, local workforce and contribute to a functioning economy.

4. Hawaii has the most lopsided Legislature in the country, with only one Republican in the Senate and only four in the House. How would you ensure there is an open exchange of ideas, transparency and accountability for decisions? What do you see as the consequences of one-party control, and how would you address that?

The history of the strong Democratic vote goes back to the history of Plantation Era Hawaii, and has dominated the ballot and electorate ever since.

A healthy exchange and debate of different ideas is necessary in any political process. However, one-party control only exists because the people speak through the ballot and elect who they believe is best to represent them in office.

What is interesting about Hawaii is that there is a great amount of diversity of thought within the party in power. Ultimately, there is no solution to one-party control until the citizens of Hawaii vote otherwise.

I believe that it is up to legislators to consider all of their constituents’ points of view and consider policies from various voices.

5. Hawaii is the only Western state without a statewide citizens initiative process. Do you support such a process? 

While I do support a statewide citizens initiative process, I believe that such a system gives opportunity for corrupt special interests to hijack the process, as well as the potential that the state could be inundated with irrelevant matters that will take attention away from our core priorities.

I strongly support the democratic process and the voice of the people, however, we must ensure that such a process has measures in place that guarantee productivity and fairness.

6. Thanks to their campaign war chests and name familiarity, incumbents are almost always re-elected in Hawaii legislative races. Should there be term limits for state legislators, as there are for the governor’s office and county councils? Why or why not?

I do support term limits for state legislative races, however, I think that it will need to be a detailed conversation that we must have as a state.

Having term limits in general does not necessarily mean less corruption, but it can be a tool to help us limit corruption if implemented sensibly. We would need to figure out an appropriate amount of time of limitation that would also still allow proficiency and efficacy of addressing our constituents’ needs.

7. Hawaii has recently experienced a number of prominent corruption scandals, prompting the state House of Representatives to appoint a commission tasked with improving government transparency through ethics and lobbying reforms. What will you do to ensure accountability at the Legislature? Are you open to ideas such as requiring the Sunshine Law and open records laws to apply to the Legislature or banning campaign contributions during session?

I am for Sunshine Laws applying to the Legislature except in instances where confidentiality is necessary. While banning campaign contributions during session seems like a solution, it ultimately will not stop corrupt politicians from being bought out prior to their election.

Increased transparency and auditing is absolutely necessary to ensure that the people of Hawaii are being represented by those that truly work in the public’s best interest.

8. How would you make the Legislature more transparent and accessible to the public? Opening conference committees to the public? Stricter disclosure requirements on lobbying and lobbyists? How could the Legislature change its own internal rules to be more open?

Currently, I appreciate how much the Legislature has improved transparency by promoting more transparency and accessibility by using technology. Whether it be through online testimonies or live-streaming on YouTube, I think the Legislature has shown its intent to be more inclusive.

However, I believe that accessibility for rural communities or neighbor islands could still be improved. I think that having areas for mobile testimony in each district would help with public participation in our government because people still experience difficulty with using technology or even having accessibility to technology or the internet.

9. Hawaii has seen a growing division when it comes to politics, development, health mandates and other issues. What would you do to bridge those gaps and bring people together in spite of their differences?

I think that as a society we have grown to be polarized and divided, and many leaders enable that sentiment. However, I believe that if we are truly one state, then we will acknowledge everyone’s point of view and create neutral laws that are based on equality and equity. Bringing people together means that everyone gets a seat, everyone is heard and everyone benefits after leaving the table.

10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.

I believe that Hawaii has needed a more sustainable economy for quite some time now, and the pandemic really exposed that necessity.

My focus for a better Hawaii would start with our keiki. If they are to inherit our state in the future, then we need to prepare them to be involved in state processes.

I would like to implement a civic education curriculum in our schools that also incorporates paths into local job fields. This curriculum will address two large issues we are currently facing in our state, which is lack of government institutional knowledge and workforce shortage.

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